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Reflecting on Valentine’s Day

If you Google “Valentine’s Day,” you will get the usual plethora of responses – from its origins in ancient Rome in the third century A.D., to its present day commercialization.

Definitions abound. One entry I liked was simple and direct: “St. Valentine’s Day is an annual festival to celebrate romantic love, friendship and admiration.”

That definition reminded me of one of the Super Bowl commercials (one of the few I really understood, I might add, at least prior to half-time). It was presented by New York Life Insurance and offered four definitions of love from the Greek language – “philia, storgé, eros and agápē.” The commercial defined each word for love:

Philia is affection which grows from friendship.

Storgé, the kind [of love] you have for a grandparent or a brother.

The third word is eros, the uncontrollable urge to say ‘I love you.’

Finally, the fourth kind of love is different and the most admirable. It is called agape — love in action — which takes courage, sacrifice, strength.

C.S. Lewis, a Christian writer and theologian, also spoke of the different kinds of love. He identified agape as unconditional love. In biblical texts, originally written in Greek, the word agape is used to connote any kind of selfless love, whether between human beings or between humans and God. In the Catholic tradition, Eucharist is sometimes referred to as an agape meal.

If you missed the original airing of the commercial, treat yourself to its one minute message on this Valentine’s Day. See it at this link.

You may also want to take a few minutes to identify the different kinds of love in your own life and praise God for the blessings of relationships.

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Sister Ann Casper

Sister Ann Casper, SP, retired as the executive director for Mission Advancement for the Sisters of Providence in 2018 and currently serves as minister of Providence Community Cemetery at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. Sister Ann has ministered in various scholastic and administrative positions in Indiana and North Carolina. She also was a member of the Sisters of Providence leadership team, serving as General Secretary.

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2 Comments

  1. Peg Benson on February 14, 2020 at 8:30 am

    Here’s a Valentine for persons on opposite sides of an issue:

    Out beyond
    ideas of right and
    wrong,
    There is a field ~~
    I will meet you there.
    ~ Rumi

    • Rosaline Secrest, PA on February 19, 2020 at 10:11 am

      This is beautiful, Ann, and not just for Valentine’s Day. If we have been blessed with the first three kinds of love, how much greater our responsibility to share agape.

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